- Table of ContentsPrint
- Overview of Codeine Abuse
- Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
- Effects of Codeine Abuse
- Addiction Treatment
- Codeine: Key Statistics
- Additional Resources
Codeine Abuse question 1
Overview of Codeine Abuse
Codeine is an opiate drug often found in prescription-strength cough syrups, or in a combination formulation with various other analgesics (for example, with acetaminophen - under the brand name Tylenol 3). It is used clinically to treat pain and coughing; however, it is also often abused due to its euphoric side effects.
Codeine addiction is a widespread, far-reaching problem that spans across ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Codeine is an addictive drug with potentially dangerous effects at high dosages. It essentially acts as a depressant of the central nervous system. This leads users to experience:
- Feelings of relaxation.
- Slowed heart rate.
These effects are perceived as pleasant, and the user may become addicted to these effects and, in turn, the drug.
- Sweating and chills.
- Extreme irritability.
- Abdominal discomfort.
The Demand for Codeine
Codeine is clearly a product that is in demand within the street and club scenes; some reports say that people pay up to $200 per bottle to obtain cough syrup for illegal use.
Codeine Abuse question 2
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
If you think someone you are close to may be addicted to codeine, there are a few traits for which you can keep an eye out:
- Dizziness and staggering.
- Itchiness and scratching (often of the nose).
- Constricted or pinpoint pupils.
- Slow breathing.
- Confused mental state.
- Complaints of constipation.
- Blue appearance to lips or fingernails.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Delirium and hallucination.
Codeine Abuse question 3
Effects of Codeine Abuse
There are many unpleasant side of codeine abuse, some of which can be fatal. These effects include:
- Gastrointestinal distress.
- Clouded thinking and impaired judgment.
- Drastic lowering of blood pressure.
- Slowed heart rate.
- Liver malfunction (especially with the Tylenol formulations).
Markedly lowered heart and respiration rates can result from central nervous system depression. The resulting decrease in oxygenated blood to the brain and other vital organs can lead to seizures or even death.
Codeine Abuse question 4
Codeine Abuse question 5
If you are struggling to dig your way out of a codeine addiction, there are several roads you can travel to find the support you need to recover, such as:
- Checking into a residential rehab center.
- Joining Narcotics Anonymous.
- Participating in other twelve-step groups, or non-twelve-step recovery programs such as SMART Recovery.
- Seeking therapy from an addiction specialist or psychotherapist.
If you have a severe addiction and need to leave a toxic environment, an inpatient center will likely be best for you. However, every addiction is unique, and treatment must be tailored to the individual.
Codeine Abuse question 6
Codeine: Key Statistics
The problem of codeine abuse and addiction is widespread. Consider the following statistics:
- The Texas State Board of Pharmacy found that more than 145 gallons of codeine cough syrup were used for illegal purposes over a 5-year period.
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), almost 17,000 deaths due to overdose from opiates occurred in 2011.
- In 2013, SAMHSA estimated that 1.9 million Americans had an opiate use disorder in the previous year.
Especially troubling is the tolerance to opiates like codeine can increase quickly, which increases the user's demand for the drug. Often, in an attempt to feel the same high when the prescription drug source is no longer available (or too expensive), the user may turn to street drugs like heroin as a substitute.
For more information about codeine's effects and codeine addiction, visit the following pages:
Visit our Forum and join the conversation about opiate addiction today.
- Leaning on Syrup: The Misuse of Opioid Cough Syrup in Houston. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2015, from https://socialwork.utexas.edu/dl/files/cswr/institutes/ari/pdf/sippingonsyrup.pdf
- Codeine: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2015, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682065.html